Friday, January 4, 2008

Toddler TV Trauma

Hi, today, I'm Emily Elizabeth, and this is my two-year-old daughter, Clifford. If I slip up and call her by her real name, she will patiently correct me.

“No, I'm Clifford!”

“Right, sorry. Clifford, would you please hold still for your diaper change?”

This scenario results from reading Clifford the Big Red Dog books, and then watching Clifford shows on Youtube.

Our daughter pretends to be every fictional character she encounters, and my wife and I must play along – all day, every day -- or face dire consequences.

It's wearing a little thin.

Thankfully, she's not yet making me wear a short skirt and knee-high striped socks like Emily Elizabeth.

But even if she did, it would still be a huge improvement over her “Little Einsteins” phase.

The child characters in “Little Einsteins” obsess over classical music and famous paintings so that yuppie parents will think the show is somehow making their children smarter.

In truth, the show is causing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, because the characters constantly holler about some impending crisis, such as the fact that the Mona Lisa is floating toward a giant waterfall, with dramatic, doom-connoting classical music playing in the background.

Not surprisingly, this hyped-up behavior rubbed off on our daughter, who spent a couple of weeks saying everything at maximum volume.

“NO, I'M JUNE!!!!”

Of all the Little Einsteins, June is my least favorite, because she wears make-up and earrings, and her eyes are shaped a little seductively, like she's about to wink. It gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Often our daughter combines themes, taking on Little Einsteins personalities while engaged in a crucial animal rescue mission inspired by the children's TV series “Go Diego, Go!”

Diego is the masculine spin-off of Dora the Explorer. They are actually the same character, with the same voices, speech patterns, thirst for exotic adventure, enormous mechanical eyeballs, and annoying habit of asking you questions and then staring cryptically at you for ten full seconds, waiting for your answer, whether you've already finished giving it or not.

At the end of every show, Dora asks, “What was your favorite part?”

My daughter's answer: “My favorite part was giving water to the thirsty flower.”

My answer: “I liked not pretending to be a vaguely sexualized two-dimensional six-year-old for 20 minutes so I could sit and read the sports page.”

Diego does not have time for such pleasantries. He is busy rescuing exotic animals from waterfalls (of course).

As a direct result, our couch is now a waterfall, and anyone who sits on it is in dire peril and must be rescued immediately.

(Not much of a change, come to think of it).

It all makes me long for the days of Barney, when our anthem was “I love you, you love me” and the biggest thing we had to worry about was how long it would take that tall kid to realize puberty had set in and it was time for him to scramble out of there.

I also reminisce about The Wiggles, when the world was full of frenetic, coked-up Australian guys dancing around like... like... frenetic, coked-up Australians, singing about mashed potatoes and pirates and everything else that is pure and decent in this world.

But at least we still have Clifford, that wholesome, good-natured, and laid-back dog who--

Hold on, I'll finish as soon as I get this skirt on.

No comments: